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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Behind enemy lines a Q and A with UW Daily sports reporter Alexis Mansanarez

Running+back+Nick+Wilson+%2828%29+skids+through+Washingtons+defensive+line+on+Nov.+15%2C+2014.
Tyler Baker
Running back Nick Wilson (28) skids through Washington’s defensive line on Nov. 15, 2014.

The first week of Pac-12 Conference play is supposed to set the tone for the rest of the season, and Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez and company will welcome the No. 9 Washington Huskies into Tucson.

The Huskies come in with a good defense, tied for No. 3 in points allowed and No. 10 with 11 sacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision. However, the Wildcats are 3-1 at home against top-10 teams in the Rich Rodriguez era.

Alexis Mansanarez, sports editor for The Daily of the University of Washington, broke down her expectations for Saturday’s Pac-12 opener at Arizona Stadium.

DW: Washington comes in ranked in the top-10 to begin the Pac-12 schedule. What is the “shining moment” you take away from the first three wins?

AM: The UW’s defense has been incredible. The Huskies entered the season with a lot of preseason hype and after holding its opponents to only 30 points in three games, Washington has shown no signs of slowing down.

Juniors Keishawn Bierria and Azeem Victor are two hard-hitting linebackers who currently lead the team with 39 combined tackles. With their strength at the heart of the defense, a deep secondary and an equally talented D-line, the Huskies have proved they deserve to be a top-10 team.

The shining moment in an already bright cast of players comes from sophomore defensive lineman Greg Gaines. Gaines has taken away a total of 15 yards from 4.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks.

Not many have gotten past the Pac-12’s top defense, and it’s likely to remain that way.

The Huskies, much like Arizona, are known for basketball in recent years. But with the recent success that head coach Chris Petersen has brought to the program, are fans leaning toward football now?

The football team has always had a pretty good fan base, and with the success Washington has had so far this season, expect it to grow.

The late games and poor Seattle weather make watching the game at home more attractive, but there is nothing like the atmosphere at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium come kickoff.

After winning the first three non-conference games by almost 120 points, fans are excited to see what the Huskies will do against tough conference matchups.

Earlier this week, Arizona linebacker Michael Barton said Washington quarterback Jake Browning has completely flourished since his freshman season. What makes Browning so special and a leader on this team loaded with NFL talent?

In his true freshman year, Browning showed a lot of promise and so far, this season has exceeded expectations. Completing over 70 percent of his passes, Browning has improved across the board. He has shown patience and effectiveness in the deep-passing game as well as improving when there is pressure in the pocket.

His team-first mentality is a direct reflection of coach Petersen, and his ability to block out all of the outside noise shows, as he is not active on his Twitter account during the season.

He is focused and dialed in, and I only expect greater things from him to come.

What are your predictions for the game Saturday in terms of tempo? Who will shine for Washington and what is your predication for the final score?

This weekend’s game should pose more of a challenge to the Huskies. I expect a fast-tempo, pass-heavy game. The Huskies haven’t had much success in the run game, and the conference opener on the road isn’t a great time to test it out.

The connection between Browning and redshirt junior wide receiver John Ross III has been electric, and with Ross’s talent in the backfield on punt returns, I expect him to put up some big numbers in the desert.

With confidence, I’ll take Washington 31-10 over Arizona.


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